Entering into the weak version of translanguaging: Teachers' English use in children's Tamil language classes in Singapore

Poorani Vijayakumar, Rasmus Steinkrauss, He Sun*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    23 Downloads (Pure)


    The current study investigates the impact of the teachers' societal dominant language use within a weak version of translanguaging in early heritage language education. We explored five preschool teachers' use of English, the dominant majority language, in Tamil heritage language classes in Singapore and examined its impact on 33 children's immediate language production in class and in their Tamil language storytelling at the end of the academic year. Our findings demonstrate that while the conventional thinking of protecting the heritage language's pureness is still dominant, the Tamil language teachers did employ English in their Tamil instruction, and their English use had a substantial variation in frequency. The teachers mostly switched to English due to habituation but not with explicit instructional purposes. When English use aided language instruction, it facilitated children's comprehension and elicited more child talk. Results also indicated that children model their teacher's English usage in their immediate responses. When teachers increased their English use in daily practice, children also incorporated increased English use in their Tamil storytelling task at the end of the academic year. Regardless of English use, however, children's output remained predominantly in Tamil. The implication of using translanguaging in early heritage language education is discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)230-247
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
    Issue number3
    Early online date6-Sept-2020
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


    • Early childhood Education
    • Bilingualism
    • bilingual Education
    • translanguaging
    • young language learners
    • heritage language

    Cite this